What makes Great Britain great: a US perspective

When Americans examine the greatness of a nation that is the United Kingdom, many things come to mind as to how it stands out from the rest of the world.

When Americans examine the greatness of a nation that is the United Kingdom, many things come to mind as to how it stands out from the rest of the world. There are its cities, its cultural institutions, sporting fixtures, scenery and indeed the ways of life that make Britain and its culture as a nation a distinct one in the modern era. However, looking in from the other side of the pond, there is something more to what makes it great: its people.

The timing of the Olympics confirms this notion, when you see the enthusiastic volunteers (known as games makers) ready to help you, as the BBC’s Mark Easton noted in a recent piece on volunteerism and corporatism in the Games. “In their purple and orange uniforms, the unpaid helpers are everywhere, ready with directions and brimming with enthusiasm,” Easton wrote. “They have clearly been encouraged to let their personalities bloom. There is nothing corporate about the welcome. It is individual and human. It is really rather British.”

Easton added that the games makers only wanted one thing to come out of all this. “Every one of the volunteers I met seemed sincere in simply wanting visitors to have a wonderful experience. There was little in it for them other than the joy of making London 2012 a success,” Easton wrote, something visitors from around the world can agree with.

Even before the Olympics began the people continued to stand out to show the United States and indeed the world what Britain is today. They represent Britain and what it stands for, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of occupation. This humanness that Easton wrote about epitomises the spirit of the British public. They remain examples of the kindness, innovation and acceptance of open arms that come from the UK which keeps it a unique nation in the world. The public have a positive attitude which helps to excel in creativity and are always willing to help, something that we Americans have always taken a liking to.

These are the traits that allow Britain as a nation to thrive day in and day out and one of many things which define the nation. These traits were part of the picture of the UK that was painted when Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony took to light and its pictures went around the world. You can tell as that ceremony reached to a conclusion and as the cauldron was lit, it was clear that the people were key in helping make London the greatest city in the world and Britain the greatest nation in the world, like they do every single day. The United States admires Britain for a number of reasons, and its people is one of those reasons.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll happily say it again: the people of the United Kingdom are the heart and soul of the United Kingdom, and truly put the Great in Great Britain. For these people, there is nothing about these traits that can be taken away or indeed replicated—nothing. I look forward to in the very near future seeing this for myself.